Game Show Memories – The Krypton Factor TV Times Special.

The Krypton Factor TV Times Special (1983)

As a fan of The Krypton Factor, I am always on the lookout for any more specials to review in addition to the regular series. And this is a rather interesting one, as it seems that this was never actually shown on TV. This was before I watched The Krypton Factor or read TV Times, but I presume that there was a competition where viewers could take part in a edition.

As always, the host was Gordon Burns, who insisted that thousands of people had entered this competition. But only four could make it to this stage, and one of them was called William Stewart (not that one!). There would be three rounds instead of the usual six, all taking place in the studio, so they wouldn’t have to get their tracksuits on for a go on the obstacle course. This was about 20 minutes long, and also seemingly featured no studio audience.

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The scoring system was the same, and the winner would receive a specially-made trophy that was a replica of the scoreboard, which was still very much analogue in those days. Round one is Mental Agility, and was based around the game of Battleships. At the end of this, there were joint leaders. Round two is Intelligence, with lots of fiddling about with multi-coloured hexagons. Curiously there wasn’t the usual commentary on their progress to accompany this.

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After this, there is now a clear leader, but will they still be out in front at the end? The third and final round is General Knowledge. Each contestant is asked three questions individually for two points each, and then there are questions on the buzzer for 90 seconds, with one point for a correct answer, and one point deduced for an incorrect answer.

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And after time is up, the winner, with a Krypton Factor of 21, from Christchurch in Dorset, is Nick Jenkins! He then receives the trophy, along with some (probably canned) applause, and he says that he would like to enter the regular series too. I don’t know if this actually happened, but who knows, maybe he was a future superperson in the making.

More TV Memories – Christmas TV Magazines.

A strange thing happens around the end of November. TV magazines that had been published every Tuesday are suddenly released at a much faster pace. This is because at the start of December the Christmas and New Year double issue is released. It’s always a big deal, although double issues haven’t been around as long as the TV magazines themselves, both Radio Times and TV Times published their first one in 1969, although based on the day of the week that Christmas falls on it varies as to whether New Year programmes are included too. vlcsnap-00096

For a while there was a tradition that after some information had been released about upcoming Christmas programmes at the end of November, newspapers would try to put together a TV guide themselves ahead of the magazines, but this was famously useless because most of the columns still just said that “To Be Announced” was showing on every channel, and this practice has just about stopped now. vlcsnap-00530

These double issues have become a really big occasion in themselves and the Radio Times one is almost 300 pages now. There is always the story that when they first get hold of the magazine, people like to get their highlighter pens out to mark the shows that they want to watch the most and remind themselves of when they are on. I actually remember doing this one year before I realised that many other people do this too! vlcsnap-00460

There are usually some changes in the double issues, it’s still surprising to see how many people say “it’s the only issue of Radio Times I buy any more during the year”. For example, the double issues are usually the only covers which feature artwork any more, and although some covers are nice, most of them just look like the usual combinations of generic Santas and snowmen. Also, inside the pages you’ll find lots of amusing photoshoots featuring TV stars awkwardly holding presents and the like to promote their specials. vlcsnap-00125

Radio Times also have on their listings pages “first week” and “second week”. I think we can guess which ones are which! A lot of work must go into compiling these specials, and since 1991 when magazines were deregulated and went into competition with one another, the amount of channels listed has increased greatly. Nowadays on the local radio page of Radio Times which seems to have listings for about 22 stations crammed into two pages, they actually expand it for the double issue to three, they really are spoiling us! vlcsnap-00237

A lot of people also say that the Christmas double issue is the only TV magazine that they keep after the timescale has passed, they just throw the others away. Honestly, throwing TV magazines away, who would do such a thing? I always like that feeling at the start of December when all the TV magazines have been released for the rest of the year and I have a pile of about three or four of them ready to go through which is always one of the clues for me that Christmas is coming. I hope it’s a tradition that’ll continue for a while yet.

More TV Memories – The Deregulation Of TV Magazines.

The Deregulation Of TV Magazines (1991)

For many years, if you wanted to know what would be on TV and radio for the coming week, you had to buy two magazines. Radio Times for BBC TV and radio, and TV Times for ITV and Channel 4. In March 1991 significant changes were made, meaning that magazines could now list all details of channels. This led to listings magazines for the first time being in direct competition with one another, leading to several major advertising campaigns, and price wars. One of the oddities about the changes was that they came in on a Friday, so there were empty columns in the pages from Saturday-Thursday before it all started. Here are my memories of how the established magazines dealt with these changes, and how the newcomers made an impact too. time0001

Radio Times. One of Britain’s longest-established magazines, and also one of the biggest selling, had to transform. The look of the magazine became a lot more garish, the covers changing in a few years from nice illustrations and creative photography to dull headshots of Hollywood stars and increasingly brash headlines in an ugly typeface. It also said “still only 50p!” on the cover as if it was a naff comic. vlcsnap-00905

Their advertising campaign used the phrase “if it’s on, it’s in”, because along with ITV and Channel 4 they could also list the earliest wave of satellite channels. After that they had another campaign which used the phrase “the best thing on TV” which has a clever double meaning. The listings became more condensed, with the removal of extra production credits, meaning bad news for many lighting directors hoping to see their name in print. I still find it rather odd seeing ITV shows on the cover of Radio Times to this day. vlcsnap-00907

TV Times. They could now list BBC TV and radio, satellite, and also commercial radio. This was an area that was never really exploited, in my region they listed Capital FM and Capital Gold for a while but that was it, they never listed any others and nowadays it would be impossible to list them all. The first cover of the new era famously featured the headline “Together at last!” and was half-price at 25p! vlcsnap-00908

Adverts for TV Times always appeared at the end of breaks on ITV and Channel 4 for many years, but now they had to buy the slots in breaks. To launch the new era they hired magician Geoffrey Durham. “I never knew there was so much in it” was one of the straplines for a TV Times advert campaign. Well now there’s even more! And now you don’t have to buy it any more! vlcsnap-00903

TV Quick. A new magazine that launched in 1991, and it only cost 10p! In their launch campaign they used “That’s The Way I Like It” by KC And The Sunshine Band for an advert that seemed to be in every break on TV for a short while. I remember their listings were a lot more witty than other magazines, however they closed down in 2009. vlcsnap-00906

What’s On TV. Another newcomer, this magazine was 25p at the launch. A free gift was also given away with the first issue. I do remember reading this magazine for a while, I enjoyed the page on children’s shows called Zap!, and eventually it became Britain’s biggest-selling magazine. In later years though, it has become a rather bog-standard magazine, seemingly featuring the same publicity photo of EastEnders character Phil Mitchell on the front every single week with the sensationist headline “Phil DEAD?”, and yet, he’s still around. vlcsnap-00902

TV Plus. A very little-remembered magazine that seemingly got lost in among all the others which cost 45p and closed down after just three issues. vlcsnap-00904

Others. As well as this, newspapers could now also provide weekly magazines at the weekend, and in more recent years, more magazines have come along including TV Choice and Total TV Guide. And of course now being in the era of EPGs and websites, there’s more information available than ever. vlcsnap-00909